Choose life…

choose life

Today I attended the annual Choose Life conference at Stonefield Castle.

Choose life is an organisation working to reduce the numbers of people who die through suicide in Scotland. In 2004, 803 people died through suicide in Scotland.

My mind was constantly filled with memories of my friend Neil who died in 2007. The tragedy of the end of his life and the grief and pain and loss his passing left behind has been one of the most significant events of my adult life. Sheila- may life continue to grow anew for you and the kids, and may you know that you are loved…

The conference today was creative and engaging- dance, film, poetry and discussion.

And I wrote this- changing a poem I had written already…


Find for me a dark place

For at the moment, I can bear no light

Find for me a silent place

Because your words lie empty

And hollow moments echo

With their passing

Find for me a place to be

So that I may drag out the distant memory

The possibility

Of me

Support for people bereaved by suicide…

choose life

My wife Michaela is conducting a piece of research for Choose Life Argyll and Bute, in partnership with Argyll and Bute Volunteer Centre, and is looking for support and information.

Over the years of delivering suicide intervention skills courses, Choose Life have become increasingly aware of the lack of resources to support people after a suicide in Argyll and Bute. They are seeking to find out more about what resources would be useful for those surviving suicide and those bereaved by suicide, alongside those professional services providing support to those at risk of suicide. The  hope is that this will lead to actual resources available across the area.

She would like to speak to people in Argyll and Bute about what has helped them after being affected by suicide, and what services they would like to see being developed in the area for themselves or others.

However she would also like to hear from others across Scotland about what services and support are available in your area for people who have experienced risk of suicide, or bereavement by suicide, including both family and staff. If there are currently groups, helplines or activities that you know of that help people in your area, it would be good to hear about it, as an idea that could be used in Argyll and Bute.

Please contact michaela on 01369 700100, or email . Also, if you know someone who has an experience that you think they would want to share that would help this project, please invite them to get in touch.

Choose life…

Today I attended the choose life conference @ Stonefield Castle near Tarbet.

Choose life are an organisation whose purpose is to support initiatives that seek to help reduce the suicide rate in Scotland.

Scotland has one of the highest suicide rates in Western Europe, particularly in men. Suicide is the largest single cause of death in males under 35.

Suicide rates are almost always higher in areas of deprivation- in urban areas. However, when you control for deprivation, the next highest risk group are older men in rural areas. Strangely enough, living in rural areas seems to be a protective factor for women, but the opposite for men.

Speculation about the causal factors behind these figures might include the availability of instruments of greater violence in rural situations- farmers and forestry workers who have access to fire arms, and the isolation and poor support networks for people living and working in such situations.

Perhaps above all things however, people are at most risk when they become unable to think positively about the future- when they have lost hope.

Choose life run courses that help people think about the issue of suicide, and how we might help one another to spot those who are at risk, and access the help that might be needed.

Today there was also someone there from Breathing Space, a telephone/online helpline which attracts thousands and thousands of calls, and was originally aimed towards young men. Give it a try- here.

Christians deal in hope. It is this that Jesus gave us above all things. Hope of a world blessed by grace and beauty, and the possibility of healing and renewal. The New Kingdom- promised and possible- here right now.

And because of this, wherever we might be able to see increase of the things of the Kingdom- wherever we might be able to fan the flames of hope- there we should be, I reckon.